Backlash is mounting against the vice-president of the Italian senate after he celebrated Italy’s World Cup win over England with a vulgar Twitter outburst calling English people “pretentious pricks”. Maurizio Gasparri, former minister of communications under Silvio Berlusconi and one of the media mogul’s most loyal party faithful, posted a tweet at 2am local time from Salerno, just as Italy’s victory over England was sealed. 

In every large democracy of our time, little seems to be left to chance, with both national and trans-national laws and policies relating to every aspect of our life. The Internet however, is still much debated and a sort of grey area. 

Dressed in a nun’s habit, with the crowd on its feet and a tattooed rap-star judge fighting back tears, Sister Cristina belts out a hip-shaking rendition of “No One,” by Alicia Keys, that brings down the house at auditions for Italy’s equivalent of The Voice.  Her performance quickly goes viral on the Internet, topping 47 million views on YouTube. Now, gossip magazines have splashed her on their covers in her habit and featured her in articles.

Does being around the most popular person on the planet make you popular, too? Apparently that’s the hope. Judging by the way the world’s elite are flocking to Vatican City, you might think Pope Francis is sprinkling magic pixie dust, not holy water.

"Ballot" is not originally an English word: It comes from the Venetian word ballotta, or "little ball." For centuries, councils elected the Doge of Venice, who ruled the city-state, with small silver and gold balls. Now Venetians have put their modern equivalent to good use in a bid to declare independence from Italy. And they have a pretty good case to make for restoring their once-mighty republic.

There's clearly something about March that makes people think about secession. While Crimea monopolized the front pages when its residents voted to secede from Ukraine, Venetians were taking an online poll on whether they wanted to quit Italy and turn their Italian region of Veneto into its own country.

Italy has more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other country in the world, and its art and cultural riches have drawn visitors for centuries. It also prides itself on being a culinary mecca, where preparing, cooking and serving meals is a fine, even sacred, art. And now that the country is in the deepest and most protracted recession since World War II, why not cash in on its reputation as a paradise for visiting gourmets and gourmands?

George Clooney has claimed that France should return the Mona Lisa to Italy during a promotional tour for his new film The Monuments Men, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The comments, which follow Clooney's repeated claims over the past week that Britain should return the Parthenon marbles to Greece, were reportedly made in Milan at a press event during which the film's cast posed in front of the famed Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece The Last Supper. The film's director was joined by co-stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin and John Goodman for the event.